Individual apologises before Committee on Ethics and Privileges

The individual who admitted to breaching the privileges of Parliamentarians on Facebook, expressed his regret and apologised at the Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Tuesday.

According to a complaint made by Member of Parliament M.A. Sumanthiran regarding a video posted in an insulting manner to Member of Parliament R. Sampanthan, resulting in a violation of his privileges, the alleged individual affiliated to the relevant Facebook Page, was summoned before the Committee on Ethics and Privileges recently.

An investigation related to this incident took place at the Committee on Ethics and Privileges which met recently (04) in Parliament under the Chairmanship of the Ministry of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms (Dr.) Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC.

Given that the alleged individual admitted that there had been a breach of the said Parliamentarians privilege by him, it was decided to settle the matter subject to conditions agreed by both parties. Thus, the investigation into the complaint was concluded on the condition of publishing a statement in a renowned newspaper as well as on the Facebook Page expressing regret and apologising on the said matter. The Committee released him after strong warning to not continue with such actions in the future.

The Chairman of the Committee pointed out that if a defamatory statement is made regarding a Member of Parliament or the Parliament in general, the Parliament and the Supreme Court have the power to punish alleged persons who do so under the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.

He pointed out that under the powers of Parliament, there is also the power to warn or ban entry into the Parliament premises for six months and if the Committee on Ethics and Privileges decides that something offensive has been carried out, it can be referred to the Supreme Court.

Accordingly, the Chairman further pointed out that if found guilty, he can be sentenced to a prison sentence of not more than two years or a fine or both.

Meanwhile, two Parliamentary journalists of a leading Sinhala daily newspaper were also summoned before the Committee on Ethics and Privileges in connection with an incident of publishing false news in light that brought disgrace to all the Members of Parliament.

This complaint was made by Member of Parliament Jayantha Ketagoda regarding a news item published in the said newspaper on March 9, 2022 under the headline “Parliamentarians cause havoc in Parliament due to the short supply of liquid milk in the canteen”.

Thus, MP Jayantha Ketagoda said that through this false news, hatred has been created among the public towards the entire Parliament and its Members.

The Director of the Department of Catering and Housekeeping was also summoned before the Committee and he said that he had investigated the matter and no information about such an incident was reported.

Thus, the Chairman of the Committee pointed out that it appears that the publication of false information has damaged the honour of the entire Parliament, and the need to report more responsibly as senior journalists is required.

Both parties agreed to resolve this issue without proceeding to judicial action.

Accordingly, a statement expressing regret for the publication of this false information to be published in the relevant newspaper within two weeks, giving the same publicity as the false news, and a copy of it to be sent to the Secretary General of the Parliament within a week was agreed upon.

The Chairman of the Committee further said that this would be settled under the conditions of agreeing to refrain from publishing such defamatory false statements about the Parliament or the Members of Parliament in the future. The Chair also instructed the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper in writing to take care of this matter.

In the meantime, the Committee’s attention was also drawn to the complaint made against the CID in relation to the breach of privilege of obtaining the data of the “WhatsApp” calls of Parliamentarian Patali Champika Ranawaka without legal permission.

It was also mentioned here that the Criminal Investigation Department has obtained this data in relation to an investigation into a financial misappropriation that took place in the Ministry when the Member of Parliament, was a Minister.

Accordingly, the Director of the Criminal Investigation Department was summoned before the Committee on Ethics and Privileges on the 18th for further inquiry on this matter.

State Ministers Anuradha Jayaratne, Members of Parliament and Committee Members Thalatha Athukorala, Gunawardena, Weerasumana Weerasinghe and Tikiri K. Jayathilake, Assistant Secretary General of the Parliament was present at this meeting.

by Daily News Sri Lanka

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